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  • Melissa Sims

Personal Core Values in Leadership

Identifying (and Sticking to) Your Values in Your Journey of Leadership

Your leadership journey and the foundation of your leadership philosophy greatly hinge on how clear you are on your deepest core set of values. But effective leadership isn’t just about being able to define your values - it is about putting them into action and ultimately living by them. Basically, not just talking the talk, but walking the walk. However, owning our personal values in the workplace is often easier said than done.

As a leader, defining clearly who you are, what you stand for and what your deepest values are, is step one in effective leadership. What is your philosophy?

An easy pitfall for a leader to fall into in the beginning of their journey is to be a pleaser. In this state, a leader will typically tamp down their own desires in order to fit into an organization. This is often about seeking approval and a sense of belonging. As a new leader, sometimes one’s self-worth depends more on what other people think about them, and less on their own beliefs. It is when this occurs that leaders can fall prey to peer pressure, which is the opposite of what a leader is about. Instead of speaking to what could be done or what is actually true, a leader can fall into the behavior of appeasing the team and telling them what they want to hear. Challenging the system, or being truly innovative is at too much of a cost. Less risks are taken, and stagnation abounds, for fear of rocking the boat or challenging the status quo.

If you can take time to evaluate your why, evaluate your values, and incorporate them into your leadership journey, you may find more success and a more rewarding experience. Is your desire to be accepted in the group overshadowing your desire to help the families/the system/the program succeed?

In the instance where we are seeking approval and veering away from our true values, fear, denial, and delusion creep in. We are dependent on external factors for our sense of happiness and self worth. In the mind that is aware, and able to self-examine, we begin to understand that integrity is what makes us whole, not necessarily following all the unspoken rules and getting the most approval from the most people.

When we can let go of the need for external validation, we choose our true values, irrespective of those who we surround ourselves with. It is no longer about what would make the most people happy - it becomes about what aligns best with what we set out to do in the first place. You don’t need to look good at doing what you need to do, you just do good, without worrying about how it looks. Once you move into this state, your values are communication through your actions.

When we can sacrifice how well we are liked, how good we look doing something, how many awards we received on the way, for the sake of our core values, THAT is when we are walking our talk. We can move out of the comfort zone of approval and into the growth zone. This is where we can choose values that support growth, by overcoming fear and moving toward integrity. Sometimes moving into that zone can cause disharmony and even disapproval from some.

Asking yourself “what is the example I want to set for my team?” is a great starting point. Choosing to live by your own values and eliminating the need for approval, or to be admired, requires a deeper look at what it is you truly desire out of your experience. Identify your values, and set the example for others to follow. Choose your own path, based on your values, and you’re already on your way.


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